I admire the ability she had to combine the mundane with the magical and more importantly, to catapult the mundane into the magical. Her poems remind me of little puzzle boxes, constantly shifting, forcing the reader to revise their understanding of each line as the read the next one. Also, the way she mined all sorts of disciplines/fields for vocabulary (everything from alchemy to breaking news to the history of the British monarchy) lends her poems a depth and richness that means I’m constantly learning while I read her work.
Ada’s poetry combines an ability to be both conversational and lyric, something I’m always trying to achieve in my own work. I think she is writing some of the most captivating and important poems about grief and pain right now and I always find moments of resonance and recognition when I turn to her books. She was one of the first poets I truly fell in love with as a writer and she’s been a model for me in the incisive grace and fearlessness with which she writes about chronic pain and mental health.
Lauren Groff’s fiction makes me want to evangelize & buy everyone copies of her books. I finished Fates and Furies in an airport not long after graduating from college and started sobbing, probably terrifying everyone around me. In the next year and half, I devoured every single one of her novels and short story collections. Her characters are often difficult people, sometimes prickly, never perfect, and I always find both solace and inspiration in her work. She also excels at truly capturing the nuances of interpersonal relationships and the voices of her narrators linger long after you finish reading.
Her debut full-length, Hard Damage, just came out this year, but already she’s become one of those poets that if I see her name in a journal, I know I have to read it. Her recent work has been sharp, tightly crafted, and different from anything else I’ve read. I struggle to articulate exactly what characterizes her work to me, but I think that, in a way, the appeal of her poems is that they do elude easy characterization or description. They are so specifically themselves, loaded with the kind of treacherous intimacy of a confession made across a crowded bar. She’s also doing some incredibly exciting things with form, which has encouraged me to experiment in my own work with how my poems are structured.
Although I’d read individual poems by her over the years and loved them, I recently read her collection Forest Primeval for the first time. I’m now obsessed. The way she constantly interrogates and deconstructs inherited notions of beauty has forced me to consider how I’m complicit in aestheticizing both the hurt inflicted on me, and the hurt I’ve caused others. Her poems are gorgeous and crafted down to syllabic level, but they also are constantly aware of their own context. I also appreciate the generosity she shows toward her readers in her willingness to be vulnerable on the page and not censor herself for the sake of others.
Caroline Shea is the author of the chapbook Lambflesh (Kelsay Books, 2019). She’s an assistant poetry editor at Washington Square Review, as well as poetry editor for Green Writers Press. Her work has appeared in Crab Fat Magazine, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The Pinch, among other publications. She recently received The Pinch Literary Award for poetry and is currently an MFA candidate at NYU. firstname.lastname@example.org